Cycling Mantras ~ Establishing Desert Rhythms

Bicycling is among my passions, one of the ways I connect to the world, my body, my being. The rhythm of riding, the cyclical nature of cycling, of spinning the crank arms, to spin a cogset, to spin the chain, so that the wheels spin. Round and round and round in a circle game…the movement and frame of mind parallels a meditation practice known as Vipassana, the intention of which is to focus entirely on the physical aspect of a task. In China’s vast deserts, I could cycle for hour upon hour, my connection between bicycle, body and the endless desert interrupted only occasionally by a passing vehicle.

Traversing China by bicycle marked my first awareness of the music I’d play in my mind while cycling. I’d settle into a rhythm, legs pumping, lungs breathing, heart beating, and some refrain from a song would rise into my consciousnes, or a few bars of melody. Repeating over and over and over, like the pedals, like my legs, like my lungs, like my heart. I’d sink into the rhythms and find a stillness in mind, a oneness with everything. Long before I began listening to mantras, I realised I was creating them. Pedalling across the desert became a meditation spanning hour upon hour, mile upon mile.
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I know why you’re crying ~ Orbison & lang know why too

Sometimes the words bring a song to mind. This poem was in my thoughts this morning and as the words of it washed over me a melody rose out of words. And out of a melody rose k.d. lang’s wail, Crying.

Roy Orbison wrote about a cry arising from reasons much different than those I wrote about in this poem, and yet the source is much the same. It’s a cry from the center of the soul. It’s the deepest lament for a separation, a divide, a seemingly uncrossable gap.

But there is a significant difference in these laments. In the tears of one, you long for what you have lost and cannot ever possess. In the tears of the other, you long for what you’ve never had, but which longs for you to claim it. And in these tears, transformation awaits.
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Passport to Paradise ~ Three songs you’ve almost certainly never heard before…

…unless you’re Stephen Guy. (Who, by the way, almost certainly introduced me to this band. Have you started on that guest post yet, Steve?)

This is a literary blog. While the theme is movies, music and books, it’s really about words and how these themes inspire them. Every now and again, though, we’re going to let one of the themes stand largely on its own. Today, it’s music in the form of 1970s jazz fusion from saxophonist Klaus Doldinger’s band Passport.

This first bit is Ataraxia part I & II, from the album Sky Blue, released in 1978.

Listen, and enjoy.
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Hearts traveling faster than the speed of love ~ the B-52s, Topaz

A vivid memory of dancing solo on an Australian beach, the full moon intermittently obscured by racing clouds even as its rays glitterred off the cascading breakers pounding the beach. This song, Topaz, blasting at top volume from the small portable stereo speakers attached to my iPod. A breathless churning of limbs and heart and soul as the waves washed up and around my legs.

A second vivid memory from the California desert. Stage lights burn bright as a moon attracting a buzzing cloud of flying ants. Onstage, in the cloud, the B-52s heroicly playing every favourite song but for this one. On the grass, a sassy blonde beauty in a cowboy hat can’t decide between me and the man she arrived with. We dance. She hesitates. A tasty, lingering kiss, then she’s gone. But so is he, already, faster than the speed of love.
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Teach Your Children Well ~ A Manifesto

A friend of mine teaches music from her home and said this about how she takes on the task:

“I teach with all I have. It’s a promise I made to the little girl I used to be… that the children who come to my door would be protected, guided, loved, inspired, and given music. That I would find their soul and then I would nurture it exactly as it is, without ever trying to change who they are.”

I wrote back, “The teaching profession should adopt that as a manifesto.”
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3 Things I Learned About Rejection By Being Accepted ~ A Traveller’s Tale

Travelers Tales China: True Stories by Patrick Jennings et. al.

This post is an expansion of a comment I made on Daryl Sedore’s article, Why Rejection Letters are Great appearing on Write to Done. Sedore reminds us that in all endeavours we can expect to be rejected one or more times before being accepted. Every rejection is a good thing; we should look at each one as one more out of the way before reaching acceptance.

Also, I just wanted to write an article featuring a numbered “How To” list, since they’re all the rage in blogging.

Rejection is a good thing. I like turning negatives on their head. How about turning positives on their head? What if we looked at a positive event to determine what can be done better, and hopefully reduce the number and severity of future negatives? The first time I received an acceptance letter it provided some lessons in using rejection as a learning experience.
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Take It Easy ~ Zen and the Art of Simplicity

I like to make things complex. Do you? I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I see so much complexity.

Look at this blog, for example. There are six ways to Sunday to identify a single article. This post will appear in the Music, Pop and Rock categories. There’s a country music inflection to “Take it Easy” so I’m tempted to put it there as well. What I’m writing here is a commentary, and it’s kinda oriented to the spiritual. The way things are going right now, this may turn into a life story.
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The Dao de Jing ~ The transformational quality of seeing the beauty in all things.

The Tao te Ching :: The Book of the Way ~ Lao Tse (Stephen Mitchell trans.)

Tao to Ching ~ Lao Tse
Stephen Mitchell trans.

I can’t remember when I first encountered The Dao de Jing (also Tao te Ching, pronounced the same), which surprises me since it quickly grew to become my favourite written text. It’s brief (just 81 chapters of verse, a page or so each) yet richly nuanced. I’ve read all or parts of it dozens of times and always discover some new way of seeing or gain some clarity in every reading. The verses cover all aspects of living: love, death, leadership, war, existence itself. On the whole, it’s a book about mastering the art of living.
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Annie’s Song ~ Notes on observing the sacraments of a sacred life

John Denver was a gentle, loving soul of considerable talent and purpose. He sang with heartfelt clarity and graceful gravity, qualities his music often reflected. Annie’s Song is ostensibly a love song, John Denver singing a poetic list of metaphors for how grand the experience of loving a woman is, and being loved by her. What’s compelling about the metaphors though is that they could be common everyday experiences, mundane even. The kind of experiences we take for granted every day. Denver elevates them, finds in them a grandness he equates with the most soulful of loves.

You fill up my senses
like a night in the forest
like the mountains in springtime,
like a walk in the rain
like a storm in the desert,
like a sleepy blue ocean
you fill up my senses,
come fill me again.

How often do I walk through these scenes and sense nothing out of the ordinary, feel no expansion? How often are my senses not filled up? Read more »

Grace on my mind, and in my heart ~ Dave Matthews

Dave Matthews, prodigiously talented and prolific, a true minstrel of our times writing soulful, often doleful songs of our everyday experiences. Transcendant, luminescent, playful. His live performances bring together extraordinary musicians with nary a glorious note misplayed or misplaced. And at the center mic, leaving no doubt as to the driving force of the band’s epic noise, is the vibrant, passionate often jubilant and always generous Dave Matthews, a man and artist of grace. I’m more than a little overdue in dedicating a post to him.

Grace is a word that has been coming up in my life lately. It is among my favourite words, useful for aesthetic, spiritual, emotional, personal and even social meanings. When I hear the word, though, or speak, read, think or write it, the sense that nearly always accompanies it is of divinity, the divine. Divine grace, so-to-speak, though it seems the pairing is but a repetition. When we walk through this life with grace and dignity, we do so with bouyancy in our step…bliss courses through us.
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